Protests are being organized around the world against Russia’s anti-gay law, as athletes prepare to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Gay rights activists are gathering in large cities, including New York, London, Paris, and St. Petersburg. At a protest Wednesday in Jerusalem, one demonstrator chanted that “homophobia is terror.”
Demonstrators are trying to persuade Olympic corporate sponsors to denounce the law, which prohibits spreading so-called “gay propaganda” to minors. U.S. Olympic Committee sponsor AT&T has condemned the measure, saying it is harmful to a diverse society.
Meanwhile, Russian media say an Islamic militant suspected of assisting suicide bombers who carried out attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd late last year has been killed.
Reports say the man, Dzhamaldin Mirzayev, died in a shootout Wednesday at a house in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan.
Islamic militants from Russia’s volatile Caucasus region have threatened to carry out attacks during the Sochi Games.
Also Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Olympics village, saying security remains a major concern for the Sochi Games with opening ceremonies two days away. He spoke as the Olympic torch made its way through Sochi for the first time.
A jihadist group from Dagestan claimed responsibility for the two suicide attacks that killed 34 people in Volgograd late last year.
US authorities allege that two ethnic Chechens who lived in the United States for a decade carried out the Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260.
Chechnya and Dagestan are majority Muslim republics in the North Caucasus.
Russian authorities have spent an estimated $2 billion to shore up security in advance of the Sochi Olympics. Thousands of security personnel are patrolling what is described as a “ring of steel” around the Black Sea resort to prevent terrorist attacks.
Analysts have expressed concern about militants penetrating soft targets outside of the “ring of steel” such as train stations.
(Participants in the Vancouver Pride Parade in August 2013 protest against Russia’s laws banning “gay propaganda”. Photo: Julius Reque/flickr.com)